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Claudia Bülbül

"Is it real or was it a Reel? Blackness and Afro-Culture in Turkish media spaces."

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Blackness, has been a marginal part of Turkish pop and media culture. This is changing rapidly through the new trend of Afro dance(s) on social media. As a mass medium, Turkish Television is swamped with battle-shows. Knowledge, beauty and talent are trades that seem to indicate what popular opinion considers to be successful or worthy of a challenge. In the sphere of aesthetics, arts and beauty questions are asked: What is special, what is real, where does it come from and who is presenting it. 

This essay looks at 3 forms of media representation of Africaness:

First, a mid-day, mainstream Turkish television format, in which a Turkish-Gambian woman, Aisha Delikli is presenting her “different kind of beauty” (Bir başka Güzel) to Turkey’s SHOW TV audience. The daily television show reveals issues of exotification and other aspects of marginalizing Africaness; Second, a performance group of West-African musicians and dancers who make a living through various professional activities but continue to struggle for spaces in which to practice their art; Third the rapidly growing phenomenon of Afro dance(s), social media posts, parties, workshops, dance classes and the role they play among the highly digitalized youth of Istanbul.




Claudia Bülbül – Academic Bio

Ms. Bülbül is a researcher of urban anthropology in Istanbul Turkey where she works together with Kadir Has University on the TÜBİTAK financed research project of Sub-Sahara Migration to Turkey, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Mahir Şaul. 

Claudia Bülbül received her BA in European Studies at Maastricht University, her MA in Political Philosophy at Bilgi University in Istanbul and is currently writing her PHD under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Conermann at the University of excellence in Bonn. She has been studying, living and working in Istanbul since 2008.

Ms. Bülbül’s PHD research is on "the emergence and transformation of an African cultural space in Istanbul". She looks at “Afro”/ and "African dances, music, performances and aesthetics" claiming that through global migration from South to South, West to East/ East to West, North to South, “Africa - inspired forms of Life and Art are influencing the cosmopolitan urban culture and social spaces of Istanbul".   

Ms. Bülbül made her own first connection with Sub-Saharan Africa at the early age of 12, when she lived in Zimbabwe, Bulawayo where she attended Petra Primary School as a guest student. She understands migration as a form of connection.